Vegetable Growing

Crokers Bar (upstairs) Murroe, 11.00am

Joy Larkcom has been growing vegetables for over 40 years and is one of the world’s leading experts in the field. As well as having built herself an enviable reputation as an author and gardener, Joy is also a well known journalist, lecturer and a well known radio and television broadcaster with the BBC.

Her books include Creative Vegetable Gardener, Oriental Vegetables, Salads for Small Gardens, The Organic Salad Garden, Grow Your Own Vegetables, and the revisions of the classic The Vegetable Garden Displayed.

Joy has won the Garden Writer of the Year award three times and in 1993 was awarded the prestigious Veitch Memorial Medal for services to horticulture. In November 2003 Joy was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Garden Writers Guild.

Joy Larkcom singlehandedly transformed the way we think about salad growing. In the mid-70’s, Joy and her young family set off on what they called ‘The Grand Vegetable Tour’, travelling around Europe seeking out unusual salad varieties, including many we now think of as salad garden standards, such as rocket and mizuna.

Vegetable growing is a passion with people from all walks of life, all races, all ages, and the plots they cultivate range from large country gardens to allotments, to tiny urban patches, to window boxes. For me, it is a very personal passion. In the 1970s my husband and I and our two young children spent a year touring western Europe in a caravan, studying vegetable growing and collecting old varieties. We “rediscovered” forgotten salad plants like rocket and chicory, as well as the then new red and green Italian Lollo lettuces. On our return we introduced them to the UK, along with the productive cut-and-come-again technique for growing salad seedlings.

I’ve always felt it is misleading to say growing vegetables is easy. It isn’t. Most vegetables need reasonably good soil, and there are lots of tricks to learn about raising them, harvesting them, growing the right amount for the family you are feeding. But newcomers shouldn’t be daunted. Vegetable growers are a generous community – never happier than when sharing experiences or the fruits of their labour. Never be afraid to ask advice, and watch carefully what the old hands are doing.

If you are setting out, start on a small scale. Little by little, what seemed daunting at first will become second nature, so never despair. Something will always succeed: a bad year for pumpkins will be a good year for peas.

A once in a lifetime event not to be missed by anyone with a green thumb!

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